Choosing Which Schools to Apply To: 2 Important Factors

Posted By SWatts on Dec 14, 2014 |

From The Staff of MBA
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Choosing Which Schools to Apply To: 2 Important Factors

A lot of factors come into play when choosing which business school to apply to. But, for many candidates, there are two important factors that can fail to influence their decision as much as it should. Let’s discuss why.


Prestige and ranking are often seen as synonymous when, in reality, they mean two very different things. A business school can be ranked as a “top-5” business school in one year and be only a “top-10” business school the very next year. Rankings can fluctuate greatly, even year-to-year. They can also be notably different based upon which organization provided the ranking. However, the “brand” you pick up from the business school you attend can continue much further in networking and job searching, regardless of ranking.

Let’s give an example: When a student who intends to pursue a career outside of the United States must choose between NYU and Oxford, prestige may be especially important in the eyes of their future employers. NYU is a well-ranked business school, but Oxford’s prestige is golden on an international level, even if the business school ranking is lower than NYU’s. In this candidate’s case, the Oxford name may actually carry his or her prospects further than the NYU ranking.

On the other hand, a candidate who wants to pursue a career in the United States may also want to consider prestige when deciding between a regional school and a national school. If you intend to move around the U.S. during your career, you may want to choose a school that is well known nationally. After all, prestige is a subjective matter. For instance, if you intend to establish a career in the South, Duke’s name may open more doors than an MBA from the University of Chicago, despite Booth’s strong national ranking.

Career and Alumni

As you go through the admissions process, you should have a general sense of where you want to take your career post-MBA, both in the years immediately post-graduation as well as in the long-term. More often than not, your degree is only a stepping-stone toward what you want to do later in life. In many cases, you will have two or three job changes in your first post-MBA decade. It is during those crucial moments that your business school network can make a difference. Alumni will often favor job candidates from their own school. Your classmates will start companies or rise to senior positions in various industries and offer resources, networks and career advice. Many schools offer lifelong career support, so it is important to gear your career goals to the career opportunities offered by your business school of choice. Consider the school that will best help to fulfill your career aspirations.